Through a Jewish Lens: Exploring Mysteries of the Universe

by on October 20, 2016

Do you wonder if there is a reality beyond the tangible world? Do you believe there is a mystery at the heart of the universe that we will never be able to fully understand? If so, you may be attracted to the teachings of Kabbalah, a form of Jewish mysticism.

Mysticism is usually defined as “a direct experience of ultimate reality.” Kabbalah itself, though, is more than just accounts of mystical experiences. It is also a deeper exploration of life. It contains folklore, superstitions, magic, legend, myth, philosophy, and meditation practices. Among the questions Kabbalah seeks to answer include: What is the world? Who are we? What is the significance of our lives and actions? What is God? How can we come to know ultimate reality in our own experience? How do the body, heart, mind, and spirit fit together?

The literal translation of Kabbalah is “receiving.” On the one hand it signifies that kabbalah is a received tradition, passed on from teacher to student, usually in private or in small groups. But its name also suggests that it enables us to receive the light/energy of the Infinite. Awareness is viewed as the purest form of light and all of creation is viewed as a vessel or container. The shape and strength of a vessel will determine how much light it can hold. Every vessel holds its maximum capacity at all times. Because the light of awareness is infinite, we can’t add more light – all we can do is increase the size and capacity of our vessel. Just as we do specific exercises to increase the size of our muscles, so Kabbalah offers spiritual exercises to increase the shape and size of our bodies, emotions, intellect and soul, all of which are the vessels that contain the light of the Infinite.

In Spain, 1292, Rabbi Moses de Leon published a mystical book called the Zohar – the Book of Radiance, in English. Within a short number of years, the Zohar became the fundamental book of Jewish mysticism. Rich in mystical symbolism, reading the Zohar is like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle and forming a higher and expanded consciousness—a larger vessel if you will. Central to the teaching of the Zohar is that Infinite Oneness is all that is. Separation is an illusion.

Most of us live in a limited reality. We suffer from many aspects of life, and mostly from a sense of separation. The Zohar specifically, and Kabbalah in general, offers a profound shift in perception; a shift that may help us expand our vessels and embrace more light.

 

 

Jewish Mysticism: Events & Activities at the PJCC

PJCC Art Gallery presents The Seen and the Unseen
Jewish mystical prints of paintings by Orit Martin, on display October 7, 2016 – January 2, 2017.

Lehrhaus Philosophy Circle: The Zohar
Take part in this Bay Area wide nine-part session starting November 7.

Happier Hour: Superstitions
Center Members: Join us on November 15 and help create a community amulet to protect us from the evil eye. See pg. XX.

Walking the Path of the Jewish Mystic
This December 4 lecture explores seminal teachings of Kabbalah.

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